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Full text of "The Discovery Of The Child"

154               THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD

is impossible for the mind of a child, especially considering that
he is not able to follow a long speech.

I remember being present at an arithmetic lesson in which
children were being taught that two and three make five. For
this purpose was used a checkered board set up so that balls,
could be fixed into corresponding holes. For example, two balls-
were placed at a higher level, three lower down and finally five
of them. I do not remember exactly the proceedings adopted in
this lesson; I know, however, that the teacher had to place beside*
the two upper balls a paper dancer wearing a blue tunic, which
was christened there and then with the name of a child in the clas&
" This is Mariettina." Then beside the three balls was placed
another dancer, differently dressed, who was " Gigina ". I do not
know precisely how the teacher arrived at a demonstration of the
sum, but she certainly talked for a long time with these dancers,,
moved them about and so on. If 7 remember the dancers better
than the working out of the sum, what would it have meant for
the children? If by such means they have not learnt that two and
three make five, they must at least have made a great mental effort,,
and the mistress must have talked with the dancers for many
hours!

In another lesson the mistress wished to show the difference
between noise and sound. She began by telling a rather long story
to the children; suddenly someone working in agreement with her
knocked noisily at the door. The mistress broke off her story to
cry: " What is it? What has happened? What have they done?-
What is it, children? Oh, I have lost the thread of my ideas; I
cannot go on with the story; I can remember nothing; I must let
it go, Do you know what is the matter? Have you heard? Have
you understood? It is a noisel That is a noise. Oh, I would rather
nurse this baby." (She takes up a mandoline wrapped up in a
cover,) " Dear baby, I prefer to play with you. Do you see it?
Do you see this baby which I am holding in my arms? " Some of
the children call out, "It is not a baby"; others, "It is a.
mandoline." The teacher says: "No, no, it is a baby, a real